Lisbon Valley Gas Plant now selling purified helium

Move comes amid global shortage of valuable gas

lisbon valley gas plant
The Lisbon Valley Gas Plant is selling helium six months after it began processing the globally hard-to-obtain gas. Photo courtesy of Paradox Resources

The Lisbon Valley Gas Plant is meeting a strong market demand for a valuable gas that has been in short supply worldwide. The plant about 40 miles south of Moab began accepting and processing third party producer helium gas streams in July. With the recent shutdown of the only other plant in the region near Farmington, New Mexico, the Lisbon Valley Gas Plant is offering stranded producers the sales outlet and solutions they need to get their gas to market at a fair price.

Paradox Resources on Jan. 23 announced the first sales of the helium plant along with the full fractionation and cryo startup in July of 2019 of the San Juan County plant.

Houston-based parent company Paradox Resources is selling purified helium – 99.999% – and offering additional purified “with a product that is in global short supply” and is used in the medical and research, space and defense, and welding industries – as well as the lift and party balloon industries. Helium is used in MRI equipment to keep high-powered magnets cool; high-speed internet and cable television, mobile phones, computers and tablet chips are all reliant on the gas, as are high-res microscopes, airbags, as shielding in welding and leak detector on ships – and even as a cleaner of rocket fuel tanks.

According to the company, the Lisbon Valley Gas Plant has a historical uptime percentage of 99% over the last 20 years, which is far superior to the shuttered Farmington plant’s historical uptime of about 80%. This serves to give recently stranded producers to the south, including producers on Navajo and Ute lands, a more reliable outlet for their gas.

If commissioned to be built today, the Lisbon Valley Gas Plant would cost approximately $400 million to build inclusive of the helium plant, according to the company. It has been constructed in phases over the years. The durability and flexibility of the plant led to the consummation of an R&D Joint Venture aimed at reducing emissions globally with the world’s largest oil company, Saudi Aramco, in the summer of 2019.

Paradox Resources estimates approximately 20 million cubic feet a day was stranded by the shutdown of the Farmington plant. The company owns multiple oil and gas fields in Utah and Colorado that feed the San Juan plant. The Paradox Basin has been noted by the USGS as having one of the largest undeveloped oil and gas fields in the United States.